TeachStrong Blog

Ideas to inspire.

By JULIA BUCKLEY

Plant-Based Milks 101

Stopping for a coffee or tea during a hectic school day allows us to enjoy a little moment to ourselves whilst also getting a quick caffeine hit. Recently, a new controversy is threatening to shake the established tradition in staffrooms across the country: the increasing popularity of plant-based milks. Are these new milks just a fad? Or is there something much more serious at the heart of this new invasion in our schools? I wanted to shed some light on this topic and offer you the chance to answer the question for yourselves.

What's wrong with cow's milk?

Health

Cow’s milk is the perfect food … for calves! For the human body, however, this cocktail of hormones, fats and proteins is highly harmful. The main protein in cow’s milk, casein, has been linked to prostate cancer, the second most common cause of cancer death in men in the UK. Cow’s milk has also been linked to heart disease, migraines, allergies, skin problems such as acne and, ironically, increased risk of bone fracture. Yes, the idea that we need cow’s milk for strong bones is a complete myth! In fact, one study has shown that those who consumed less of it had lower rates of osteoporosis. Finally, over 70%  of people worldwide are lactose intolerant meaning that many people are suffering with discomfort unnecessarily.

Watch this video to find out more about the links between dairy and cancer.

Environment

Producing milk is a huge waste of natural resources. The amount of land, water, and food that is needed for cows is completely inefficient and could be put to much better use (for instance growing food for human consumption). Also, dairy farming produces large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming. As customers, we have the responsibility to choose more sustainable products if we want to take care of our planet. Which type of milk you drink can be a really positive step to help.

Cruelty of the industry

The life of a dairy cow is like a horror movie. After 15 months, they are continuously artificially inseminated. Within 72 hours of giving birth the calves are taken away from their mothers. With no space to move, poor hygienic conditions, and great pressure to produce large quantities of milk (between 20 to 50 litters when they naturally produce around 6), diseases are common. A high percentage of cows in the UK have mastitis, a painful udder infection, which results in pus being found in their milk (up to about 400 million cells per litre is legally sold for human consumption in the UK). As soon as their milk production falls below expectations, they are sent to the slaughterhouse, living only about 6 years instead of the 20 that they would naturally.

What’s the alternative?

So, what can we drink instead to avoid; harming our health, polluting the planet and financing these cruel practices? Thankfully there are many alternatives including; soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, coconut milk, pea milk, cashew milk, hemp seed milk, peanut milk, hazelnut milk, … The list goes on!

The question is, which one is the best? Well, it comes down to personal taste and we encourage you to experiment. However, we wanted to share our top 3 plant-based milks.

1) Oat milk: naturally sweet, high in fibre and it doesn’t curdle in coffee; what more could you possibly want! It is our favourite because it is the most sustainable milk for the planet (oat milk uses 10 times less land than dairy milk!).

2) Rice milk: Also has a natural sweetness, it’s a great option for those who suffer with food allergies or sensitivities, and it also works well in coffee. It is not that popular (yet) in the UK but it’s very easy to make your own at home

3) Soy milk: the most popular. It’s naturally high in protein and you’ll tend to find it in most cafés and supermarkets. Despite being the most nutritious plant-based milk, in recent years soy has fallen victim of false rumours (fuelled by the dairy industry). There is no evidence linking soya consumption with adverse effects on sexual development or reproductive health. And if you’ve heard that soya plantations are harmful to the environment, know that 80% of the world’s soya is used as feed for meat and dairy livestock. Only around 6 per cent of soya beans are eaten by humans directly as whole beans or in soya products like tofu, soya milk and soya sauce. Also, the majority of soybeans imported to the United Kingdom are responsibly sourced and GMO free.

Your decision is a shelf away

So now it’s up to you. Are you willing to try something different? Try cutting dairy out from your diet and see how you get on. Let us know when you start noticing the changes! We’d love to hear from you! 

And when your co-workers think you’re odd for drinking a plant-based milk just remember: your hot drink is healthier, more environmentally friendly, and cruelty and pus free.